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Out & About in Cleveland

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Mayor Healy's Kick Off Event and the 4th Annual Assumption Winter Snow Ball Benefit Dinner Dance

We received a letter from our friend Mayor William J. Healy, II of Canton, Ohio inviting us to the "kick off" of his re-election campaign which would take place on Saturday, January 17th, at Local 1015 in Canton. Mayor Healy was first elected Mayor of Canton in 2007 so he is going for his third term. This time he faces a formidable opponent in the democratic primary in May, 2015 but his supporters turned out on this day to back him. Mr. Fonda Williams, Deputy Mayor, likes Mayor Healy because when he "rolled up his sleeves" and made changes for the betterment of Canton. Mr. Williams cited the fact that when Mayor Healy first took office unemployment stood at 15% but now it is down to 5.1%. What's more, he likes the people who the mayor has selected as department heads and for other positions. Mr. Williams said that they are the best and most educated group that Canton has ever had.

Ms. Andrea Perry, the Safety Director, likes Mayor Healy because of "his love for the City of Canton and his desire to create economic opportunities...he wants to move the city forward to where we need to be." She also admires Mayor Healy for his commitment to bring diversity to all levels of government.

Assistant Fire Chief, Akbar Bennett also admires the mayor's commitment to diversity. Chief Bennett oversees a mentoring program for the fire department (his friend oversees one for the police department) that prepares young people to be trained to be fire fighters. Certainly people of color are targeted for these programs but Chief Bennett was very firm when he said that they are "all inclusive" and young people of all races and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply. Chief Bennett went on to say that a saying that he lives by is, "nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care" and he knows that Mayor Healy believes this also and that he cares deeply. "You can't fake commitment," said Chief Bennett.

We shook hands with Ms. Stacey E. Polk, Co-Chairman and President, of LCR Enterprises. As it turned out, Ms. Polk and her mother, Anita, are old friends of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Ms. Polk was very sorry, indeed, that she could not attend our last holiday party. Ms. Polk told us that Mayor Healy is a "visionary and a leader who takes reasonable risks and surrounds himself with excellent professionals that he can trust to carry out his vision in Canton's best interest."

It was soon Mayor Healy's time to speak and he said that he set his priorities based around four things that make a strong city which are economy, education, community, and safety. He talked the advances in each of those areas that have taken place since he took office. For one thing, over 1,000 blighted structures have been torn down which is a big help to law enforcement and to those wishing to maintain/upgrade their neighborhoods. He was really proud of the Mayor's Scholarship Program which has partnered with several colleges and universities to provide funding to Canton students who wish to pursue higher education. Years ago the graduation rate for Canton schools hovered somewhere between 50% and 60% but now it is up to 89% which is quite a jump.

After the mayor concluded, we spoke for a moment to his charming wife Ms. Dee Healy who was there with their children. Ms. Healy, herself, immigrated to the United States from China when she was in her 20's but when we asked her when she became a citizenship, she laughed and said that it was so long ago that she couldn't immediately remember it. Ms. Healy told us to thank Ms. Wong for her continued support. We gave her our contact information and told her to contact us around the end of April because if the May election looked to be tight we would try to go to Canton for a couple of days to help out.

After we got home, we looked up Mayor Healy's 2014 State of the City speech on Canton's website and discovered that another worthy goal of his was to attract more international businesses to Canton. He said in his speech that, "I believe that one of the best opportunities for creating new jobs here in Canton is to seek out those international companies looking to do business in the U.S. We will be focusing more and more on attracting foreign investment to help our community grow."

We remembered what the mayor's Aunt Carol, who was also at Local 1015 on this day, said about her nephew which was that, "he was raised right and he stayed that way!".

Our other event for Saturday was the 4th Annual Assumption Winter Snow Ball Benefit Dinner Dance which was put on by Human Care Committee of the Assumption Church in Broadview Heights. This elegant affair was held at St. Michael's Woodside Party Center on East Mill Road and featured good food (vegetarian pasta for us) and big band music (one doesn't hear too much of this anymore) from the Dan Zola Orchestra which has quite a following; in fact it was estimated that a few of the couples were there just to dance to the smashingly good music.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to the Hands and Hearts with Haiti Committee of the Assumption Church which, as committee member Ms. Mary Zenczak explained to us, assists St. Louis Parish in Mirebalais, Haiti with such projects as water purification, educational development, teacher training and lunch programs, and agricultural programs. The balance of the proceeds will go to the Thea Bowman Center in the Mt. Pleasant community of Cleveland which provides GED Test Preparation, food support, youth programs and resource services.

We shared a table with Father Justin Dyrwal and Father Finbar from Assumption Church; Mr. Lou Geneva, former president of the Thea Bowman Center, and his wife, Jane Geneva; our friend Ms. Mary Reynolds Powell, President of the Thea Bowman Center, who was there with her husband, Dr. Doug Powell; and Ms. Ella Taylor, Executive Director of the Thea Bowman Center.

We already knew Ms. Powell from our activities with Veterans for Peace. She said that she was very grateful for the support that the Thea Bowman Center has received from the local churches as well as Ms. Margaret W. Wong for her support over the years. Ms. Taylor asked us to thank our Ms. Cecilia Wong for her support of their food programs.

Ms. Geneva told us that she used to work in career placement at Cleveland Marshall so she knew Ms. Margaret Wong from when they both served on the alumni committee years ago. She went on to tell us that it was odd that we should be here tonight because earlier today she was at a Verizon store where she had a conversation with a young clerk while she was waiting to have her phone serviced. The clerk told her that she knew a lot of au pairs (i.e. domestic assistants from a foreign country working for and living as part of a host family) who could use some help with immigration matters so her ambition was to be an immigration attorney. Of course, Ms. Geneva advised her to talk to Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

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